People associate Wicca with witchcraft. Witchcraft is said to be evil. So Wicca is evil, right? It is this ignorant reasoning that makes Wiccans often hide their faith from the public. I was curious about it myself since I have heard outspoken followers of Wicca maintain that they are not evil witches or devil worshippers, but at the same time, they are vague about what their religion is based on. So, I decided to look into what this Wicca phenomenon is all about.

Wicca is said to be rooted Gardnerian Witchcraft which was founded in the UK during the late 1940s. It is based on the symbols, seasonal days of celebration, beliefs and deities of ancient Celtic society, practices which go back to the formation of Celtic society in 800 BCE. There are various forms of Wicca, and depending on the form, they can either acknowledge a single god, a god and goddess team, several ancient gods, or no living gods at all but merely symbolic representations of them. Some practice magic, but at the same time, witchcraft is not a religion so a member of any religion is said to be capable of performing magic. Others are merely spiritual.

There are some similarities between Wicca and Satanism, but at the same time, Wiccans do not acknowledge an evil being and therefore, do not worship Satan or any other representation of an evil god. For one, both use a five-pointed star, only Satanists align two points of the star upwards, and Wiccans align two points of their star downwards in most cases. Also, both perform their rituals in a circle marked on the ground. Finally, both practice magic, only Wiccan magic is said to be positive and non-manipulative. While Wiccans consider themselves to be the exact opposite of Satanists, others do not take the time to point out the differences between the practices of these two groups.

Despite being such a misunderstood religion, Wiccans have taken pains to create a clear set of rules and beliefs for all denominations of the religion to live by which they say that other, accepted religions have not done. These rules include the respect of all people, a strong belief against the death penalty, a separation between church and state, the correction of evil deeds by the individual who committed them, a strict belief in the importance of religion, and the importance of democracy within all groups.

If this is all that there is to the religion, then there really is nothing to hide from, and it makes one wonder why people would conceal such a tame religion in the first place. Once people hear the word “witchcraft,” however, it leaves little room for one to explain it in further detail to one who is closed-minded towards the concept. All it takes it for one person not to agree that soon, people become alienated from their communities, workplaces, and even their families. When it reaches children’s ears, the taunting could be devastating to a child with a Wiccan parent.

This is why, despite being one of the fastest growing religions in the country, with at least 134,000 known worshippers, a direct head count is nearly impossible. However, not all Wiccans are as closed-mouthed about their religion. In April, Wiccans won out in a lawsuit with the Department of Veterans Affairs to add the Wiccan pentacle to a list of approved religious symbols that it will engrave on veterans’ headstones. As with all religions at first, there will be a great deal of criticism before the group has a chance at acceptance.

To read more about Wicca, visit http://www.religioustolerance.org/statbelief.htm and www.nytimes.com.

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